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Is to much protein bad for your kidneys?

Is to much protein bad for your kidneys?

A controversial myth that pops its head up now and again is that a diet high in protein may cause kidney damage.

To address this myth we will first look at the function of our kidneys. Kidneys perform many important functions in our body, including but not limited to:

  • Filtering waste materials from food and other substances we consume
  • Creating hormones that help promote bone health, produce red blood cells & regulate blood pressure
  • Maintain fluid balance in your body
  • Blood pressure control

All these make the kidneys a very important organ and one we should make sure is always working optimally.

A study involving hundreds of participants was examined by scientists at McMaster University with the meta-analysis being published in The Journal of Nutrition

Researchers analysed data from no less than 28 papers spanning from 1975 to 2016. The papers examined effects of low/normal protein intake versus higher protein diets in individuals. The publications involved some 1300 participants including those who were in good health, obese, type 2 diabetics and those with high blood pressure. All participants consumed either a low, moderate or high protein diet. The high protein diet consisted of 1.5gms of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (per day), at least 20% of total caloric intake coming from protein or at least 100gms of protein per day. The results of the study concluded that ‘High protein diets do not adversely influence kidney function on GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate - a measure of your kidney function) in healthy adults.

Michael Devries-Aboud, lead author of the study commented - “While there is a breadth of evidence showing the benefits of higher protein consumption, some people are still afraid it could cause kidney damage. With these findings, we have shown that a higher protein diet is safe. In fact, it should be viewed as an important tool for muscle health across an entire lifespan.”

At the end of the day, there is no evidence that eating protein in reasonably high amounts cause harm in healthy people. By following a balanced diet that is high in plant based proteins while supplementing with vegan protein powders, your overall protein intake will stay in a safe and healthy range while you continue to enjoy the benefits of a high protein diet (increased muscle mass & strength, bone health, higher metabolism, lower blood pressure etc).


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